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Understanding Financial Aid for Private Schools

Understanding Financial Aid for Private Schools
Monique Day

Private school is expensive, and tuition can remain a barrier for families interested in having their children experience a higher-quality education. But for many, private schools aren’t possible without financial aid. The issue is something that has plagued private schools and colleges alike. Private schools have countless advantages, especially in major metro or urban areas. Private schools often offer advanced curricula, new technology, and a network of connections and alumni who can provide a support network post-graduation. 

These advantages can feel beyond reach for many families. The median income in America is $69,560 as of 2020. It can be hard to equip children with a private school education without the use of scholarships. This leaves many private schools in an odd situation. There’s a demand for private schools, but there’s also a dual-sided stigma surrounding financial aid to attain them. At Trinity Prep, Central Florida’s top STEM private school, we believe that breaking these stigmas can be critical for parents to learn how truly accessible and worthwhile investing in private schools can be.  

Financial aid myths compound other private school assumptions. 

The exclusionary attitudes that come along with stigmatizing financial aid recipients also perpetuate other private school myths. Economic stigmas directly impact whether someone thinks a private school is diverse. The assumption being that those most likely to afford tuition are upper class, often white, and from a single socioeconomic background. However, it’s because of financial aid gifts that private schools can expand and embrace students from all walks of life. 

If private schools were more transparent with their financial aid offerings, we might see more of an increase in exclusionary stigmas going away over time. We may also see more diversity in applicants who could feel like they would find and sustain a better connection to the school they enroll with. This is why Trinity is open about our diversity information. Roughly 49% of our students identify as a person of color and 51% identify as white. We make it a point to remain transparent when speaking with prospective families about ethnicity and gender diversity. We prioritize making a space that’s inclusive for everyone. It’s part of our mission to embrace ideas, influences, tradition and technology. 

Private education is an investment with significant long-term returns. 

As previously mentioned, private education equips students with unparalleled opportunities. But what do these opportunities offer? For schools like Trinity Prep, private education often leads to 100% matriculation rates. Why? Because private schools start earlier than others in preparing students and parents for college success. These students often matriculate with significant scholarship monies to use for college and university programs. 

Students are also left with an alumni network of equally-exceptional people. This alumni network can connect them to universities, programs, or business opportunities once they graduate. When leveraged well, thriving alumni networks are a priceless resource provided by the private school community. 

How Trinity Prep Works to Provide Financial Aid

Private schools struggling under the stigmas surrounding financial aid can alleviate those stigmas by providing transparency. At Trinity Prep, we make one thing clear: we want the best students, not just the ones who can afford us. One in five students receives aid through Trinity Prep, and we make that information available to anyone who asks. 

Trinity Prep allocates approximately $2.1 million in need-based financial aid annually to qualified families with students grades 6-12. The average award last year was $12,550 per student. 

However, we do not accept scholarships or funding from outside sources. We don’t offer merit, athletic or arts scholarships. What we use is a system called TADS, an independent school management program. TADS provides a confidential, comprehensive analysis of how much a family is able to reasonably contribute toward the cost of tuition. Disbursement of funds is contingent upon the results of a completed TADS application and a review by the Trinity Prep Financial Aid Committee. 

For private schools to break away from the stigmas surrounding them, they have to take a proactive approach to transparency. At Trinity Prep, our admissions team and our faculty seek to create an inclusive, challenging learning environment for gifted students. We believe everyone who wants to work hard and expand their horizons has a place at Trinity Prep. To learn more about our community, schedule a tour with our admissions office.

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